Clay Aiken podcast looks for political balance
Clay Aiken is attempting to tackle a question that’s been plaguing Capitol Hill and the country for countless years: “How the heck are we gonna get along?”
That partisan predicament is the title of the former House candidate and “American Idol” contestant’s new podcast, launched this month by Politicon and iHeartMedia. The goal, Aiken says, is to get people from all corners of the political map in one place.
“There are very few examples of shows where people specifically from very differing backgrounds and viewpoints come together,” says Aiken.
The original idea was to feature political guests from both sides of the aisle in front of a live studio audience. Once those plans got upended by the coronavirus, Aiken says the podcast is soliciting questions from listeners on social media. And the one-time House hopeful — he made an unsuccessful 2014 Democratic bid against then-Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) — tells ITK he’s “cynical” that Congress will finally work hand in hand, even to confront a pandemic.
“I worry that we may simply be at a time where people are so polarized that even a national crisis makes it harder for politicians to be willing to work together,” Aiken says.
The key to hopes of bipartisanship, according to the 41-year-old Aiken, is agreeing to disagree.
“Everybody just immediately assumes that someone who disagrees with them is crazy and wrong,” says Aiken, who calls conservative “The View” co-host Meghan McCain one of his “best friends in the world.”
During his 2014 bid, Aiken says he learned when meeting Republican talking heads who he “might’ve thought were crazy” that they actually “think I’m crazy, too. And I’m not.”
“So if they can think I’m crazy, and I know I’m not, then there’s a good chance that I think they’re crazy and they’re not, too.”
Some past and upcoming guests on Aiken’s podcast include Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), GOP strategist Rick Wilson, Adam Carolla, Touré and The Young Turks creator Cenk Uygur.
So, what’s the answer to how we’ll all get along?
“Honestly, the way to get people to get along is less about getting them to agree on anything and more about getting them to listen to folks they disagree with,” Aiken says.
“We expect folks to change their opinion. We’re not satisfied unless someone admits that they’re wrong and agrees to believe the way we believe. And that’s not going to happen,” he adds. “I think the way we will eventually end up getting along, hopefully, is not getting everyone to agree on things, but instead getting everyone to recognize that folks aren’t evil just because they disagree with you.”